Ask any cross country coach and each will mention the importance of running together. It is stressed in practice and when done in a race can result in a good team finish.
Cross country scoring is based on adding together the finishing place of a team’s top five runners; the better the finish, the lower the score. The lowest scoring team wins the meet.
Many teams struggle to find a group of runners capable of staying packed together over the course of a three mile race. If they can’t, all is not lost. A team with a couple of strong runners can often win even with other members of the team spread out behind them.
The 2019 Lady Rattlers of Sharyland High School are one of the teams fortunate enough to have a group of runners capable of staying together and the results have been what you would expect. The team recorded six meet wins over the course of their eight meet non-district season.
They won their seventh at last week’s UIL 31-5A District Meet, held on the campus of La Joya Palmview High School.
From a field of over 50 runners the Lady Rattlers recorded finishes of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th and 13th to win the meet with 20 points, claiming their second straight district title.
Next up for Sharyland is the UIL Regional Meet this coming Monday, October 28 at the Texas A & M- Corpus Christi’s Dugan track and soccer stadium. It is a meet and an opportunity the team has been waiting a year for after their 5th place finish there in 2018. Only the top four teams qualify for the state meet and the girls are determined to be one of those four qualifiers this year.
It certainly seems like they are ready. Besides all the wins, the team is starting to peak. That means running fast at the right time. According to coach Melissa Dearth several of the girls ran personal bests at the district meet and the top five all completed the race in under 20 minutes. The gap, or time, between when those five girls crossed the finish line was impressive too, less than 45 seconds.
The team is a mixture of experience and youth. Sophomore Danielle Salinas led the team with her 2nd place finish at the district meet, followed by senior Ana Hernandez (3rd), freshmen Carolyn Tudor(4th). Seniors Delilah Vega (5th), and Andrea Gallardo (6th) were the final two of the top five Sharyland runners who factored into the team score. Two more seniors, Arianna Gomez (9th) and Jerilyn Peralez (13th) also ran for the Lady Rattlers. Sydney Bravo, a junior, was one of the team’s top runners throughout the season and may still be a factor going forward.
The Lady Rattlers will not be the only Big 7 school running at regionals. The Lady Lobos of La Joya Palmview finished second to Sharyland at the district meet and the Sharyland Pioneer girls finished third. Palmview’s Destiny Quintanilla was the individual district champ, winning the race in 18:59.8. In addition, Pioneer’s Krystal Cantu was 7th and Palmview’s Gissel Gonzalez finished 9th.
Two Big 7 boys teams from 31-5A qualified for the regional meet. La Joya Palmview, led by Rosendo Rodriguez (3rd) and Anakin Robles (5th), finished second in the team standings and Sharyland Pioneer was third. The Diamondbacks were led by Cesar Ramirez (4th) and Angel Avila (9th). Jorge Gutierrez of Sharyland High finished 7th to earn a spot in the regional race.
The District 30-6A schools ran last week too, at Springfest Park in McAllen. The Mission High girls team used a third place finish from Leila Arriola to finish second as a team, qualifying for the regional meet along with Nancy Maldonado (6th) from La Joya Juarez-Lincoln.
The Juarez –Lincoln boys team, led by Jose Calvillo’s 3rd place effort, will also be in Corpus as one of the three boys teams from 30-6A. In a tight race, the Huskies scored 67 to points to finish in third behind McAllen Memorial (64) and McAllen High (62). Mission High will be represented by two runners, Rogelio Aguirre (4th) and Felix Perez-Castillo (5th).
The UIL Region IV Meet races are scheduled to start at 8:30 am and run throughout the day. The 5A girls are scheduled to start at 11:50 am followed by the 5A boys at 12:20 pm. The 6A girls’ race begins at 12:50 pm followed by the 6A boys at 1:20 pm.
The top four teams from each race along with the top ten runners not on a qualifying team move on to the state meet at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock on November 9.
This article originally appeared in the Friday Oct. 25, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.